By Amy Carney
Across the country, we see teachers decorating tax-funded classrooms with activist posters, flags, and other memorabilia distracting students from their sole purpose of attending school- to be academically educated. One school board bravely passed a policy on January 10 to stop the visual indoctrination in their Pennsylvania classrooms.
Despite pushback from community members, the Central Bucks School District Board courageously put an end to the advocacy activities in their district by passing Policy 321 with a 6 to 3 vote.
The board adopted guidelines on Partisan, Political, or Social Policy Advocacy Activities to clarify which activities are inappropriate during assigned work hours, on all District-owned or leased property, within all school buildings, and at all District-sponsored activities. The policy states that employees shall not advocate to students concerning any partisan, political, or social policy issue nor engage in partisan, political or social policy electioneering or campaigning unrelated to employee representative elections.
According to Policy 321, “employees shall not display any flag, banner, poster, sign, sticker, pin, button, insignia, paraphernalia, photograph, or other similar material that advocates concerning any partisan, political, or social policy issue. Employees shall also not distribute, circulate, or display circulars, leaflets, petitions, or similar material that advocates concerning any partisan, political, or social policy issue.”
While the controversial policy is touted as discriminatory, it is actually helping to create the neutral environment that schools should provide and that students deserve. The ACLU filed a 72-page complaint alleging that the Central Bucks School District has created a “hostile” and “toxic” environment for LGBT and gender non-conforming students.
Teachers and students from the Holicong Middle School’s Gay Straight Alliance protested the approved policy outside of two schools in the district on Tuesday, January 17, saying that the policy makes LGBTQ+ support “invisible” now.
All students have the right to feel safe and come to school to learn without worrying about their teacher’s political or social activism. However, policy decisions like this at Central Bucks may signal a shift in favor of the non-ideological education sought by many parents.
We cannot allow our local public schools to be places to promote political or sociopolitical values which don’t align with the beliefs of many of the taxpayers who fund them. We must continue to pass school board policies and legislation nationwide that hold our government schools and employees accountable for providing students the neutral academic education experience they need and deserve.
Central Bucks Policy 321 is a prime example of the importance of electing school board members who will boldly stand up for a pro-academic education for their students.